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How to Bypass Cloudflare in PHP

June 26, 2023 · 3 min read

Web scraping comes with challenges, and bypassing Cloudflare in PHP is undoubtedly among the main obstacles you'll face. However, there are ways to bypass even the most advanced anti-bot detection measures, and we'll show you three effective solutions.

But first, let's learn about the problem at hand.

How Cloudflare Works

Cloudflare is a server network that websites use to improve their security and performance. It reroutes users' traffic through its network to analyze and detect cyber threats but, unfortunately, its anti-bot detection methods also block scrapers.

Here are some of the active and passive techniques Cloudflare uses:

  • Network characteristics: The timing and frequency of your requests, together with your IP geolocation, are factors Cloudflare monitors to detect bots. The safest way to avoid suspicion is to use residential IPs.
  • TLS fingerprinting: The first package your client sends to connect to the server provides Cloudflare with sufficient information to analyze and distinguish real browsers from headless browsers.
  • Event tracking: Automated mouse and keyboard use differs notably from actual human behavior and can easily give your scraper away.
  • HTTP request headers: When web scraping, it's essential to use correctly-ordered headers and real User Agent strings to avoid Cloudflare's suspicion.
  • CAPTCHAs: These challenges aim to distinguish bots from humans and are becoming increasingly more difficult to bypass. While some services can help you solve them, they're pretty costly, so it's best to avoid triggering CAPTCHAs.
  • Machine learning: Cloudflare uses complex algorithms to monitor and adapt to threads in real-time.
  • JavaScript challenges: With this method, Cloudflare filters out botnet's request characteristics, as they don't often have the required JS stack to pass the challenge.

As you can see, with these and other techniques, the firewall is ready to detect and block bots out there. Fortunately, there are ways to get around Cloudflare.

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Bypass Cloudflare in PHP

Below, you'll find some effective techniques to bypass Cloudflare in PHP. Let's dive in!

ZenRows

ZenRows is a web scraping tool that can flawlessly win over Cloudflare's bot detection measures with a single API call. With it, you won't have to worry about CAPTCHAs, fingerprinting, or even WAF updates.

It integrates with all programming languages to fit any scraping project and offers handy features like premium proxies and JavaScript rendering.

Selenium for PHP

Php-webDriver is a library that allows you to use Selenium in PHP. With the help of this headless browser, you can easily mimic human interactions, like scrolling, clicking buttons or filling out forms, to bypass Cloudflare's detection.

Unfortunately, you can't rely on it entirely, as it can't fool more advanced anti-bot measures, but you can complement it with a Stealth plugin.

Selenium Stealth 

Selenium Stealth is a package that helps you bypass Cloudflare in PHP in a more reliable way by masking and modifying the properties that browser fingerprinting tracks to detect bots.

And yet, it still has some weak spots, and you'll likely get blocked. Combining it with other measures, like web scraping proxies, will fortify your scraper.

Conclusion

Cloudflare is often the most persistent obstacle to a smooth web scraping process, so knowing how to bypass its detective measures is essential. The PHP client for Selenium, together with the Stealth plugin, can help with the task, but it's not 100% efficient.

On the bright side, ZenRows is a reliable and efficient solution you can trust to work against all anti-bot techniques to bypass Cloudflare in PHP. With its advanced toolkit, you'll be able to access and extract any data you want. Sign up and use the 1,000 free API credits to test it out for yourself.

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Frustrated that your web scrapers are blocked once and again? ZenRows API handles rotating proxies and headless browsers for you.
Try for FREE

The easiest way to do Web Scraping

From Rotating Proxies and Headless Browsers to CAPTCHAs, a single API call to ZenRows handles all anti-bot bypass for you.